Old Fashioned Gardening Advice

Old Fashioned Gardening Advice

Old Fashioned Gardening Advice

I have been gardening for over 20 years now, and some of the best advice I have gained over the years has been from vintage garden books. It is like sifting through garden soil though as I remove or ignore the advice that pertains to chemicals or toxic solutions to problems much like we remove stones from the soil. At the same time, there are frugal nuggets of wisdom from books that were written during tough times when money was hard to come by, and gardeners had shoestring budgets.

During the winter, I tend to get out my older books and magazines when I feel as if spring is far, far away and I can't dig in the dirt. Instead, I dig in pages and take notes to use later when I can get outside.

Today I have a few nuggets from two books I was given years ago. I hope you enjoy the tips.

The Old Dirt Dobber's Garden Book
By Thomas A. Williams, 1944

“Evergreens...will occasionally become so ragged and ill-shaped that it destroys the beauty of a planting. These trees are not generally pruned severely but in cases like this, a drastic treatment is the only recourse. If you decide to prune these, don't stop half-way; cut the top one-third out and prune the side growth at least half-way back. Apply fertilizer liberally on top of soil under the tree. As the new growth forms, the tree will take on a new shape and vigor.”

“When a heavy snowfall weighs down the limbs of evergreens, the snow should be removed with a broom before colder weather freezes it to the tree. Freshly fallen snow is easily knocked off, but don't ever beat a tree when there is a coating of ice on the limbs. In this condition, the branches break easily and it's best to leave alone, even if you have to prune later.”

10,000 Garden Questions Answered

The American Garden Guild, 1944

There is an interesting group of questions on mulching with leaves that advise using oak leaves for rhododendrons. I did a little research and the University of Oregon claims that unless you use oak leaves over and over as a mulch they don't change the soil PH because the acid level change as they break down. Using it year after year is fine for acid loving shrubs or bushes but alternate it as mulch for other plants. Oak leaves also don't need to be removed in the spring. Instead, they can be left on the soil to rot.

The following mixture is a “recipe” for making your own garden soil. I would warn that pot and container soil should not be reused. I add it to the compost pile. Any soil used should have been free of diseased plants the last time it was used.

“The soil for starting seedlings need not be rich. A mixture of 1/3 garden soil, 1/3 sand and 1/3 peatmoss or compost, thoroughly mixed and passed through a sieve (or screen), gives good results. “

FRUIT ADVICE

I always keep my eye out for advice on growing fruit since I am new to it; just having been given my first apple tree last year. I found some nice tips on various fruit in this garden book.

“Concord grapes should be pruned to about 40 buds per vine. Usually four canes having 10 buds each are left on each vine. They should be pruned in late fall, winter or early spring.”

“Strawberries grow well in a sandy loam but will adapt to any well-drained soil that is fairly retentive of moisture. Turn under manure before the plants are set. A straw mulch is helpful after the ground is frozen. Manure is best applied in early fall. “

“A good plan is to have a strawberry planting adjacent to the vegetable garden with rows next to the vegetables. When an old row of strawberries is removed, vegetables may take their place, as it is not desirable to keep strawberries in one place too long. “

They recommend twenty five foot of strawberry plants per person, plus another 25 foot of young plants for harvest the following year. They also recommend 40 plants, set 30 inches apart for canning 30-40 quarts of jam. I thought this seemed like a good starting point for a strawberry patch when planning. The plants will bear fruit the first year IF planting strawberry plants that have NOT had the blossoms removed. Otherwise they will bear fruit next season.

Old garden magazines and books are often found at thrift stores, charity sales and garage sales. Don’t pass them up just because they are old. You’ll find many wonderful tidbits in those yellowed pages.

 
 
 

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